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4-Star DT Fred Hansard Reveals Decision Date, Top 7 Contenders

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystMarch 16, 2016

Credit: 247Sports

New Jersey defensive lineman Fred Hansard will celebrate his birthday in style May 14 with a college commitment.

The 4-star recruit, a junior at The Hun School of Princeton who recently exceeded 30 scholarship offers, announced those intentions Tuesday on Twitter:

Soon after posting his plans on social media, Hansard identified several favorite universities during a discussion with Bleacher Report. He revealed a top-seven list that features Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Tennessee.

The group of universities isn't ordered by preference, and Hansard hasn't closed the door on other collegiate possibilities. At this stage, two months shy of his decision, seven programs have simply set themselves apart from the pack.

"These schools showed me that I would be huge for their program, and really I've built the best relationships with these coaches," he told Bleacher Report.

Hansard, rated No. 9 nationally among defensive tackles in composite rankings, has seen college interest explode during recent months.

Last spring, he was thrust into the national spotlight with six offers from Power Five programs during one week in May. Hansard believes a mid-January offer from Alabama created another turning point in his recruitment.

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"After that, the offers really started rolling in, especially from SEC schools," he said.

Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M extended offers within two weeks of the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss and Mississippi State also joined this pursuit by the final week of February.

An expansive array of options provides this prized playmaker with plenty to consider. Though he hasn't formally set any upcoming visits, Hansard aims to spend significant time on campuses as spring progresses.

He's considering a whirlwind tour of SEC territory, which may include teams on and off his list of favorites. Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M provide tempting destinations, though Hansard specifically targets a trip to Knoxville.

"Tennessee has been keeping in touch to make sure I'm communicating with them all the time. They've been on me for a while now," he said. 

Fred Hansard @Fred_Hansard53

Extremely exited and blessed to say I received my 15th offer tonight from Tennessee !! 🐶🔶⚪️🏈🙌🏾 http://t.co/KAfvRJ2mkw

Despite immense SEC interest, much of the focus moving forward will be on Big Ten schools. His top-seven list includes four teams from the conference, and Michigan State isn't necessarily out of the mix.

Ohio State has maintained consistent contact, according to Hansard, and Michigan is now establishing some momentum after a stretch of silence. There was a lull in his dialogue with the Wolverines throughout much of the winter, but that ended earlier this month when he chatted with Michigan assistants Jedd Fisch and Greg Mattison.

"We spoke for a long time, and they wanted me to know I'm still an important recruit for them. That felt good, and now we're keeping in contact," Hansard said.

Nearby Rutgers is the most recent university to host him, welcoming Hansard to Piscataway last month. The program isn't taking its proximal advantage for granted, giving the in-state standout every indication he's a top priority for new staff members. 

"The coaches make sure to contact me like every day. [Head coach Chris] Ash wants to talk all the time, so that's exciting," he said. "I had a great relationship with the old Rutgers staff, but now I'm building a very strong one with the new coaches. They have great energy."

Fred Hansard @Fred_Hansard53

Money got longer, Speaker got louder, Car got faster ! 🤘🏾 #CHOP https://t.co/hpMfglMsD1

Along with Ash, Hansard mentioned Jim McElwain (Florida), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), James Franklin (Penn State) and Mark Richt (Miami) as head coaches who've made it a point to personally engage in one-on-one conversations with him. He referred to these discussions as "a big deal" in establishing rapport with programs.

Fred Hansard @Fred_Hansard53

THE 🅾HI🅾 STATE UNIVERSITY ❗️❕ #GoBucks http://t.co/cXbDYEiVto

When it comes to touring northern campuses, Hansard hopes to return to Ohio State. He also expressed interest in a potential double-dip trip to Michigan, possibly visiting both the Wolverines and Spartans, and would like to spend time at Pittsburgh.

Hansard, who reports he now stands 6'3" and 295 pounds after shedding some weight, is versatile enough to compete at multiple positions in college. He explained that most coaches have pinpointed his future at nose guard or 3-technique, though some expressed interest in a perimeter role.

His goal is to settle in at 285-290 pounds as a senior.

"I feel like I'm fast now, but I can become even more difficult to block with a little more speed," Hansard said.

He completed the 40-yard dash in 5.15 seconds last summer at a Rutgers camp, weighing close to 310 pounds at that point. Hansard used his blend of size and increased quickness to wreak havoc on offensive backfields, earning heavy praise from Hun School head coach Todd Smith last season.

"Fred moves like a 220-pound kid, so he has that rare blend of size, speed and athleticism that every college coach is looking for," Smith said.

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.  

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